Ozzie Guillen has reached out to Big Z about joining Marlins

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There was speculation at the end of the regular season that the Marlins might have interest in bringing Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano aboard this winter to pair him with his off-field friend and fellow Venezuelan native Ozzie Guillen.

Now those rumors are gaining serious traction.

According to beat writer Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Venezuela’s El Nacional is reporting that Guillen — the new Miami Marlins skipper — has already reached out to Big Z about a potential trade.

Zambrano is owed a whopping $18 million salary next season, so any deal is going to be tough to swing. But if the Marlins are willing to take on more than half of that remaining cash commitment, they should be able to make the marriage a reality.

Zambrano, 30, posted an underwhelming 4.82 ERA and 101/56 K/BB ratio in 145 2/3 innings this season, but he still has a cool 3.60 career ERA and 7.6 career K/9. Maybe he’ll flourish again with a change of scenery.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.